Wednesday, April 8, 2015

A Compendium of Small and Useful Things

Wherein the blogger expounds upon and ennumerates a host of varied and useful tricks, tips, techniques, and tangential talks to assist the reader in treading the liveaboard topology without trepidation.


Otherwise known as:  this is a bunch of stuff about which we've been thinking but had no specific place to apply them on the blog, so here you go.
You'd be surprised how useful a simple thermos can be.

1)  The humble thermos is a very useful device when dealing with single burner or small galley operations.  It will keep your tea or coffee hot without tying up a burner or using valuable electricity.  It can also be used to finish cooking soups and to store excess hot water for use in cleaning, pasta making, and a whole host of things.

2)  By extension, insulated cookware like "Aircore" and others (really double walled cookpots), can be used for cooking off the stove.  Bring the food up to temperature, pop on the lid, and let sit on a trivet, allowing the food to self cook without external heat.  A regular pot wrapped in towels will work nearly as well.  Neither ties up a burner.

3)  Cordless power tools are a blessing.  They enable you to instantly address maintenance issues as they occur, and take up far less room than large coils of heavy power cable, which also raises the threat of cables stretched across wet decks and carrying an electrical charge.  We knew this from our initial construction, of course, but nearly a year of minor repairs, revisions, and the making of artwork has proven the wisdom of it.

4)  As previously blogged herein, we typically use wood stove pellets for biomass in our composting toilet setup. They're made of compressed sawdust, and expend when wet, which makes them a fairly convenient and compact way to store your absorption material.  They also similarly expand into loose sawdust when dampened in transit, rendering them useless for pellet stoves, so we've learned recently that many of the commercial purveyors of same will sell you such "distressed" bags for nearly nothing.  We recently picked up enough to last us through the summer for about $3 a bag (as opposed to the commercial going rate around here of near $7).  Owing to the weight involved, the bags live in the car until we need to refill the bin.

5)  Along that line, don't forget that in your vehicle you have a wonderful repository for things bulky, heavy, and unpleasant, for which there is little room aboard.  I know of livaboards that use their vehicles as virtual clothes closets for seasonal wear, and we certainly use our for storing heavy or awkward items.
Bleach.  Your key (and most restarant's) to sanitation.

6)  A simple squirt bottle for bleach makes a convenient dispenser at the sink for disinfecting your rinsewater.  It's amazing how little bleach it takes to keep your family health safe.

7)  It seems the more things in your life you do for yourself, the more pleasing it is.  We have taken to--over the last several months--roasting our own coffee, making almost all of our own meals from scratch, even making our own deodorant (more on this later).  In the process, you become more and more aware of the factors influencing your life, and, at least in our experience, more and more satisfied with the products of your own effort as opposed to the often iffy things we buy.  Nuff said.

8)  Anyone who tells you "you can't do that on a boat" is almost guaranteed never to have tried it.

9)  One of the most startling revelations we've stumbled across is that "convenience" items to which many boaters defer, citing space limitations, galley limitations, or complexity, are almost never more convenient than their more basic alternatives.  Because of the massive and wasteful packaging, need to remove said garbage from the vessel, and the limited flexibility of premixed foods, drinks, and other products, it has almost always proven cheaper, easier, and more compact to simply stock the components to things in bulk.  As an example--and a rather broad one--you will find no packets of "Rice a Roni" in our galley (pasta, rice, bullion, some spice, lotsa salt,  and preservatives in a packet inside a box).  You will however, find chicken stock (oftimes homemade), dried pasta, rice, a full spice rack of herbs, and good olive oil.  The difference is, I can make any number of meals from the latter, I can make only one dish from the former, and not much of one at that, and, remarkably, the amount of waste paper generated is about the same.  Weird, hunh?

10) . . . and this is vital, DISHES BREED!!  I don't know how this happens, but two dirty dishes left in the sink will somehow magically become an entire sinkfull of pots, pans, cutlery, plastic bags, food scraps, and other cooking tools in a matter of hours if allowed to their own devices.  I'm curious if Lamarck knew about this.  I suspect the illuminati may be involved.  Regardless, I find if we wash the damn things as we use them this doesn't happen.  We don't of course.....

More shortly.



  1. There are some Best tool brands which has other companies make tools for them. Save yourself a world heartache by asking professional power tool users to help in finding the right tool for you.

    1. I gotta agree with that. Lowballing tools is a great route to frustration. I'd hate to tell you how many crappy jigsaws I fried out before I finally wised up and bought one strong enough to do the work I needed it to do. Fortunately, we have the internet and lotsa reviews. :)